What is happening?
West Berkshire Council and neighbouring authorities are currently carrying out a housing needs assessment. This is to work out how many new dwellings are needed in the future for the Local Plan 2026-2036.
In addition, West Berkshire Council (WBC) are asking local landowners to suggest sites for potential new developments. WBC will then assess these sites and classify them as to whether they think they could be developed.
Once released there will then be a process, including public consultations, which will result in West Berkshire Council choosing which sites are to get planning permission.
What is Cold Ash Parish Council doing?
Cold Ash Parish Council has decided to prepare a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP). This is a legal process that will allow Parishioners to have a greater say in where new housing will be built in the Parish of Cold Ash. It will also give Parishioners a greater say in the style and type of housing.
What is a Neighbourhood Development Plan?
At the moment all decisions about planning policy are made by West Berkshire Council. An NDP moves the decision making process about some elements of housing planning policy to the Parish level. This means that Parishioners have a real chance to decide what happens in their Parish.
Policies in an NDP can:
- allocate sites for housing and other land uses
- set out a housing mix (e.g. proportions of big, small, affordable homes)
- specify what the design and style of new housing should look like
- set out housing densities
- identify special green areas of particular importance to the community for protection.
It is important to say that an NDP cannot be used to stop new housing from coming. The number of new houses for Cold Ash Parish will be decided by West Berkshire Council. There will be new housing, but an NDP allows you the Parishioners a much greater say than is currently allowed under the existing process.
What is the involved in an NDP?
Cold Ash Parish Council has to follow a legal process to obtain an NDP. Once the legal process has been followed, Cold Ash Parish’s rules about locations, housing type and design etc will be become local planning law and will be enforced by West Berkshire Council.
There are 9 steps to forming an NDP:
- Designation of the neighbourhood area
- Develop the content of the plan
- Public consultation
- Address consultation comments and prepare documents
- Submit plan to West Berkshire Council
- Public consultation
- Planning Inspector reviews the plan
- Public referendum
- Plan adopted
Cold Ash Parish Council formally applied to WBC to create a NDP. This application to start an NDP was accepted in March 2018 and the whole of Cold Ash Parish has been designated as a neighbourhood area.
Details can be found here
Who will decide where the houses go?
The Parish Council cannot decide this alone. Throughout the whole NDP process the Parish Council has to engage with Parishioners and find out their views on these important matters. In fact, the independent examiner of the NDP will require evidence that the policies in the NDP are supported by Parishioners. Ultimately, if the Parishioners don’t support the NDP in the referendum then the NDP will not come into force.
Towards the end of the process, if the NPD is found to be satisfactory, then the Council will arrange for the elections team to conduct a Referendum within twenty-eight days.
If more than 50.1% of those voting say yes to the NPD, then Council will bring the NDP into force and make it part of the Local Plan.
Thereafter, planning applications will have to be in accordance with the NDP, unless material conditions indicate otherwise.
Delivery of other parts of the NDP may come down to the town/parish council, as it is not up to the Council to deliver the whole of the NDP.
The Parish Council has formed a steering group to work on the first draft of the NDP.
You can find out more about the Steering Group here.